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Q:

What's a good approach shoe for climbing Mount Whitney?

I've been picking off the summits in Outside magazine's "Mountaineering 101" and now planning the East Face of Whitney. I have several pairs of climbing shoes and hiking boots, but none of them is a good all-around shoe for an ascent and descent via the loose rocks of the couloir of the mountaineers' route. Is there an approach shoe that you would recommend? I have a wide foot and can comfortably climb mid 5.10. Eric Los Angeles, California

I've been picking off the summits in Outside magazine's "Mountaineering 101" and now planning the East Face of Whitney. I have several pairs of climbing shoes and hiking boots, but none of them is a good all-around shoe for an ascent and descent via the loose rocks of the couloir of the mountaineers' route. Is there an approach shoe that you would recommend? I have a wide foot and can comfortably climb mid 5.10. Eric Los Angeles, California

A: One shoe for the whole thing, or a shoe to get you to the face and then down the couloir? I think you're after a shoe to get you there and back, with a pair of rock shoes for the core of the climb, no? If so, then Five-Ten's Guide Tennie ($89; www.fiveten.com) is a strong candidate. It has Stealth C4 soles in a dot pattern for traction on dirt and grass with plenty of grip (even some edging ability) on rock. A rocker makes them move well when you're hiking, and the lacing can be adjusted for best fit. You might even pull off the whole climb with a pair.

Five-Ten Guide Tennie


A shoe that leans a bit more toward strictly approaches but likely would be more comfortable for that purpose is Montrail's D7 Approach ($90; www.montrail.com). It's modeled on Montrail's fine trail-running shoes, but has a Vibram sole for grip and a dual-density midsole that offers enough stiffness for edging. La Sportiva's B5 ($100; www.lasportiva.com) lands between the Montrail and Five-Ten shoes; it's shaped on a climbing shoe last, but has climbing rubber and low-profile laces that won't snag. As you're a 5.10 guy, you probably could climb Whitney with this shoe.

Pick up a copy of the 2006 Outside Buyer's Guide, on newsstands April 25, for a look at 396 torture-tested products, including the 2006 Gear of the Year award winners and an all-new women-specific review section.

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